St Johns, Antigua and Barbuda: The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Live has recently shared an update about the Seatrade Cruise Global event, which was attended by a delegation from Antigua and Barbuda, led by Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, the Minister of Tourism, Investment, Aviation, and Transport. The team also included several other representatives, such as the CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C James, and several business development managers and operations managers.
During the event, the team held numerous meetings to discuss creating and maintaining partnerships, addressing infrastructure needs, itinerary inclusion discussions, and updating Barbuda. The destination’s booth was also newly designed to present an energetic, fun, and upbeat vibe, which made conducting business, sharing information, and connecting with others much more relaxed and comfortable. Several local partners, such as Bryson’s Shipping and Insurance, Heavenly Tours, and The Rendezvous Company Antigua, also joined the team’s efforts to increase business from the cruise sector.
According to the social media update, Minister Fernandez emphasized that attending Seatrade is crucial to building the port’s reputation as a marque one. He stated that Antigua and Barbuda is a leading cruise destination in the Caribbean and that forums like Seatrade offer opportunities to build dynamic, data-driven business-to-business relationships. The convention integrates meetings and events with industry insights, digital campaign reports, and solutions that create unique and vibrant destination experiences.
Colin C James, the CEO of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, shared that investments in the industry have been generating results, particularly for the approaching summer season, where 42 calls are already booked between April and August 2023, compared to only three last year. The team also shared updates on all aspects of the destination, from the harbour dredging to new tours and excursions that offer a win-win opportunity for cruise lines and local entrepreneurs to increase earnings from the sector.
The destination’s profile as an industry thought leader was significantly raised by participation in general conference forums, such as “A Future in Tourism,” where Dona Regis-Prosper, the country’s General Manager of the Antigua Cruise Port, shared her experiences on a high-profile panel attended by conference delegates. The destination and attendees received positive news that the upward trajectory will continue as the year’s first quarter ends with 69 calls and 384,257 passengers. The end of 2023 will see 600,000 passengers, including the 6,800 expected through homeporting calls.
Furthermore, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Live informed that four cruise lines confirmed homeporting operations during the event, including luxury brand Emerald Cruises, beginning in November 2023 with a weekly call and bunkering. Sea Dream Cruises will follow as of November 2024. The attendance of James Lee, a senior pilot from the Port Authority who was instrumental in safely bringing in Carnival UK’s Arvia, the largest ship to ever visit the shores of Antigua, was well received by the cruise line partners. This gave them confidence that port St Johns is safe, with highly skilled pilots capable of docking the largest ships built by the industry.
Juan Trescastro, VP of Global Destinations for Virgin Voyages, confirmed they would now commence calls to Antigua with the “Brilliant” in Jan 2024. Antigua will be the last port before the ship returns to SJU, and they will stay in port until 10:00 pm. This will significantly increase the on-island spending with these calls. The ship will call every other week for eight calls during the upcoming season.
Finally, Team Antigua and Barbuda updated the Royal Caribbean Group on the dredging progress concerning the readiness of the destination to receive the Oasis Class vessels for the upcoming cruise tourism season. Overall, the event was a success for Antigua and Barbuda, with numerous positive outcomes and partnerships formed.